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This poem is more than the grating panegyric that the title might imply. It is a delicate and exquisite expression of belief in the ancient order and norms of English society. It largely glosses over social disparities and class conflicts by picturing a form of equality upheld by shared religious convictions and national loyalty.
There is also a suggestion that the ‘stately’ may be taking some responsibility for the predicament of the ‘lowly,’ or vice versa. The poem never goes so far as to hint that things might be different; this would be contrary to its primary goal, which is to uphold the status quo and turn to the past for an ideal representation of English society.
About the poet
Felicia Dorothea Hemans, née Felicia Dorothea Browne, an English poet, was born in Liverpool on September 25, 1793, and died in Dublin on May 16, 1835. She is best known for her work on the Romantic movement, which deals with themes like nature, the picturesque, childhood innocence, travel, liberty, and the heroic, all of which she handled with an effortless and engrossing fluency.
Between the ages of 8 and 13, she wrote Poems (1808), the first of 24 volumes of poetry, of which one or more were published nearly every year from 1816 to 1834.
Where's the coward that would not dare To fight for such a land? Marmion. THE stately Homes of England, How beautiful they stand! Amidst their tall ancestral trees, O'er all the pleasant land. The deer across their greensward bound Thro' shade and sunny gleam, And the swan glides past them with the sound Of some rejoicing stream.
Hemans honors her home nation of England in “The Homes of England.” She wants the reader to get the impression that every house in England does something to enhance the country’s beauty. As she covers the various levels of classes, she visits several houses. She concentrates on the mansions of aristocracy and members of the higher classes at the beginning of the poem.
By carefully examining her word choices, such as “how magnificent they stand” and “giant ancestral trees,” we can confirm it. If you try to imagine such an environment, it creates the appearance of grandiosity.
The merry Homes of England! Around their hearths by night, What gladsome looks of household love Meet in the ruddy light! There woman's voice flows forth in song, Or childhood's tale is told, Or lips move tunefully along Some glorious page of old.
When she says: “Childhood’s tale is told”, the second stanza describes a “lower” type of home, perhaps belonging to well-educated individuals; nonetheless, it is not as prestigious as the homes depicted in the first stanza. Hemans tries to think of a woman’s function as not necessarily changing with socioeconomic class. The “woman’s voice bursts forth in song” even though these dwellings may not be like those of the nobility.
The blessed Homes of England! How softly on their bowers Is laid the holy quietness That breathes from Sabbath-hours! Solemn, yet sweet, the church-bell's chime Floats thro' their woods at morn; All other sounds, in that still time, Of breeze and leaf are born.
The third verse depicts “the blessed dwellings of England”, which are residences with a strong religious presence. These structures are home to those who believe in God and who will follow all the rules to reach “heaven,” including not displaying much interest in the worldly aspects of life (beautiful houses, cars, etc…). You can picture such people exulting in simplicity: “How delicately is draped the sacred silence on their bowers”.
The Cottage Homes of England! By thousands on her plains, They are smiling o'er the silvery brooks, And round the hamlet-fanes. Thro' glowing orchards forth they peep, Each from its nook of leaves, And fearless there the lowly sleep, As the bird beneath the eaves.
The fourth verse concludes by describing the residences of the churls or the typical guy. The descriptions of the “rich people’s” homes in “all the pleasant land” described by “the swan” that “glides past them with the sound of some rejoicing stream” (7-8) and the much humbler homes described in “by thousands on her plains, they are smiling o’er the silvery brooks”, can be easily contrasted. On a “silvery creek,” a swan won’t be visible.
The majority of people were peasants surviving off of what their land provided at that time. Since it was the most priceless possession they possessed, they cultivated it with fervor and devotion. Even if there is a disparity in living standards, Hemans skillfully portrays each house as a component of England’s attractiveness.
The free, fair Homes of England! Long, long, in hut and hall, May hearts of native proof be rear'd To guard each hallow'd wall! And green for ever be the groves, And bright the flowery sod, Where first the child's glad spirit loves Its country and its God!
This poem celebrates patriotism. Hemans uses this poem to show how women still play the same home function regardless of lifestyle. She exhibits enduring affection for England, her land. Because they serve as the foundation for English people to develop and fall in love with their nation, she treats all rungs of the housing ladder equally.
Hemans claims that English people can begin learning about national loyalty at home. The poem’s final line, “Where First the Child’s Glad Spirit Loves/ Its Country and Its God!”, symbolizes how important these homes are to the foundation of English life.